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Old 03-06-2008, 11:26 AM  
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Tit for Tat: Campaigns trade blows

I hate continuing to put this stuff in new threads, but I can't find anywhere more appropriate for it. And yes, it's salon... so discount it or whatever.

http://www.salon.com/politics/war_ro...ive/print.html

Can the Clinton campaign take the heat?
The campaign sends out a memo complaining about the Obama campaign's new strategy.
Alex Koppelman

Mar. 06, 2008 | They say irony is dead, but Hillary Clinton's campaign may be on a mission to prove that wrong. In a memo today, the Clinton camp went negative on Barack Obama for, yes, going negative on Clinton. "Senator Obama lost Ohio and Texas because voters had doubts about his ability to serve as Commander-in-Chief and steward of the economy. But instead of addressing those concerns, how is Senator Obama responding? By attacking Senator Clinton," the memo reads.

"With one of his top foreign policy advisers acknowledging yesterday that he is not ready to take the 3am call and one of his principal supporters in Texas unable to name a single legislative accomplishment, Senator Obama's time would be better spent making the case for why he can do the most important job in the world just three years out of the state senate."

(The full memo can be read after the jump.)

Forget the inherent internal contradictions here; the Clinton campaign hasn't made any secret of its negative campaigning strategy over recent days. As a colleague observed -- correctly, we think -- the memo is sort of like starting a fight, then complaining when the other guy hits you back.

The Clinton camp's messaging bled over into a conference call, when communications director Howard Wolfson, repeating an allegation from the memo, compared Obama to Whitewater investigator Ken Starr. "When Senator Obama was confronted with questions over whether he was ready to be Commander-in-Chief and steward of the economy, he chose not to address those questions, but to attack Senator Clinton," Wolfson said, according to the Politico's Ben Smith. "I for one do not believe that imitating Ken Starr is the way to win a Democratic primary election for president."

The Obama campaign has already responded. In a statement, spokesman Bill Burton said,

It is absurd that after weeks of badgering the media to "vet" Senator Obama, the Clinton campaign believes that they should be held to an entirely different standard. We don't believe that expecting candidates for the presidency to disclose their tax returns somehow constitutes Ken Starr-tactics, but the kind of transparency and accountability that Americans are looking for and that's been missing in Washington for far too long. And if Senator Clinton doesn't think that the Republicans will ask these very same questions, then she's not as ready to go toe-to-toe with John McCain as she claims.

The Clinton memo:

Senator Obama lost Ohio and Texas because voters had doubts about his ability to serve as Commander-in-Chief and steward of the economy. But instead of addressing those concerns, how is Senator Obama responding? By attacking Senator Clinton.

With one of his top foreign policy advisers acknowledging yesterday that he is not ready to take the 3am call and one of his principal supporters in Texas unable to name a single legislative accomplishment, Senator Obama's time would be better spent making the case for why he can do the most important job in the world just three years out of the state senate.

Sen. Obama's decision to go explicitly negative suggests that he is unable to make an affirmative case for his candidacy beyond ad hominem attacks. Why isn't he discussing the hearings that he held on the Foreign Affairs subcommittee that he chairs? Why isn't he talking about his travel through Latin America? Why isn't he briefing the public on his comprehensive plan to address the foreclosure crisis now? Why isn't he stumping on his universal plan health care plan? Because he can't and so he is advancing a campaign strategy premised on process and personal attacks.

The Obama campaign's negative strategy builds on one it already had in place. In Ohio and Texas, Senator Obama outspent us by a 2 to 1 margin and engaged in a negative campaign for weeks in advance on the March 4 elections. He sent negative mail that was declared misleading and false by top news organizations and ran radio ads that attacked Sen. Clinton on national security. At the same time, Senator Obama and his surrogates unleashed a barrage of negative and misleading attacks on Sen. Clinton focusing on a variety of issues.

Apparently, the Obama campaign's idea of new politics is to recycle the same old Republican attacks on Senator Clinton that have failed for years. Imitating Ken Starr is not the way to win the Democratic nomination.

The reality is that after spending $16.6 million on television and radio in the four states that voted on Tuesday and $47 million overall, Senator Obama has still not passed the commander in chief and steward of the economy tests. And no amount of false attacks on Senator Clinton is going to change that fact.
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Old 03-06-2008, 11:28 AM   #2
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As I said yesterday, Obama painted himself into a corner. The "high road" has served him well, but now he can constantly be accused of taking the "low road" even if he isn't taking it, he has to defend himself from such attacks. He'd almost be better off saying, "**** it, it's politics. I tried not to go negative. It doesn't appear to be working as well anymore. Gloves off, bitch."
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Old 03-06-2008, 11:41 AM   #3
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Old 03-06-2008, 02:12 PM   #4
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Heh. This is a new one on me. Maybe you all had discussed it already, as the post says it's been kicked around in the blogosphere all week:

http://www.salon.com/politics/war_ro..._ad/print.html
Was Obama's skin darkened for Clinton ad?
Examining allegations that an image of Barack Obama was altered, with malice aforethought, by the Clinton campaign.
Alex Koppelman

Mar. 06, 2008 | Perhaps the most potentially incendiary discussion in the blogosphere this week has been over the question of whether Hillary Clinton's campaign deliberately doctored an image of Barack Obama for use in an attack ad, taking debate footage and making Obama's face darker and wider.

In the Daily Kos diary that started it all, diarist Troutnut wrote "In case you needed yet another reason to despise Hillary Clinton and her vermin strategists, she's now running an ad blatantly lying about Obama's subcommittee. Her ad includes debate footage heavily doctored to make Obama blacker... I'm not accusing Hillary of technically being a racist. But she is cynically exploiting racism to further her personal ambition, and it's part of a pattern. She's doing it to a fellow Democrat who's virtually certain to be the nominee."

Markos Moulitsas, the man behind Daily Kos, has endorsed the allegations, writing, "There was a concerted effort by Clinton's ad people to make Obama look darker, more sinister, and with a wider nose. The evidence is indisputable."

Personally, I'd avoided discussing the issue because, in my amateur opinion based on limited graphics experience at various publications, this looked to me pretty innocent, but I wanted someone with more expertise to weigh in. That's what the people at Factcheck.org did Wednesday. In their judgment, the Clinton campaign is not guilty of the charges. Their conclusions:

The Obama frames from the ad do appear darker than other video of Obama from the same event.
However, the YouTube copy of the ad, on which the bloggers base their conclusions, is darker overall than other copies of the ad. We obtained a digital recording of the ad as it actually appeared on a Texas TV station, and it is lighter.
Furthermore, our analysis of the Obama frames, using Photoshop, shows a fairly uniform darkening of the entire image including the backdrop. It is not just Obama's skin color that's affected.
Also, nearly all the images in the ad are dark, including those of Hillary Clinton. And dark images are a common technique used in attack ads.

Factcheck also writes, "Others will speculate about the Clinton campaign's intentions and motives, as they already have. But without further evidence to the contrary, we see no reason to conclude that this is anything more than a standard attempt to make an attack ad appear sinister, rather than a special effort to exploit racial bias as some Obama supporters are saying... We're not mind-readers, so we can't say whether or not the makers of this ad intended to engage in 'race-baiting' or were 'using racism to win' as some Obama partisans are claiming. Based on evidence at hand, we find those claims to be unsubstantiated. And the many potential differences between source footage, encoding manipulations, and other variables only make it less likely that any such attempt could be proven."

(The Factcheck piece goes into much more depth than this, and multiple video and image comparisons that need to be seen to be fully understood. If you're interested in the subject, I recommend reading the whole thing.)

In an interview, Moulitsas stood by the allegations. "It's clear that it hasn't been debunked, clear that it's true that they darkened his skin and widened his face," Moulitsas said. He alleged that Factcheck was not working off a good copy of the video. "All you have to do is look at the text... It's washed out and blurry in the Factcheck one," Moulitsas said. "Either they've been duped or they've changed it."

Moulitsas e-mailed Salon a link to a post at DemocraticUnderground.com that compares frames of a video posted by Factcheck and the video available on the Clinton campaign Web site and alleges Factcheck used a doctored video. In the post, blogger berni_mccoy writes, "It is clear that Fact Check is COMPLETELY WRONG on this issue and they have either BEEN DUPED or are DIRECTLY FALSIFYING the 'facts'."

Contacted by Salon, Factcheck.org Director Brooks Jackson denied that the video his site posted was in any way altered, and charged that the DemocraticUnderground post was comparing apples to oranges. Factcheck had posted several different versions of the video taken from various sources -- YouTube, the Clinton Web site and a high-quality version recorded by the Campaign Media Analysis Group. It's Jackson's contention (one supported by the wording of the DU post) that the DU poster compared the high-quality CMAG version to the version available on the Clinton site, explaining the difference. "This guy who's falsely accusing us of doctoring the video just didn't pay attention," Jackson said. "His mistake was that the video on our site that he thought was the Clinton video isn't. He never asked us, he never called us, he made an assumption that was simply wrong. And this is a mistake a lot of hothead partisans make when they're trying to substantiate their own biases and beliefs."
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Old 03-06-2008, 02:14 PM   #5
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I should add that this could actually be an Obama attack. It's a way to go dirty without appearing to go dirty. Just make it look like your opponent is going REALLY dirty in a way that really doesn't do any damage to you.
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